Mmmmm! Brisbane winters… aren’t they just perfect?! A change of seasons is an exciting time. Especially in Brisbane! Now that winter is here you can get out all your fancy wool jumpers, jackets, shawls and layer to your heart’s desire to stay stylish and warm. And if you are a homebody, then the best part of winter might be staying cooped up under several blankets, enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace while you relax and read a book or watch a movie.
While it may seem logical that we save on electricity during the winter as our air-conditioners and fans are no longer running 24/7, turns out, that’s not the case. Many people are surprised to find their bill being much more expensive than they thought. Nearly as expensive as the bill you get during the summer. Wondering why? Well, just like we need cool energy to keep us going during the summer, we need a flow of warmth during winter too. The only difference is, we don’t realise just how much energy we are using to keep us warm. It’s like when you shop the sales and think you have successfully saved heaps of money, but in reality, you were probably so lost in the little cheap things that you didn’t realise how much you actually ended up spending! (Hands up, if you’ve done this before, don’t be embarrassed, I know I have!)
Our body is accustomed to luke warm temperatures, so when our body is exposed to lower temperatures, we subconsciously change a little to adapt to the temperature changes. And much like the human body, our homes tend to consume a bit more energy than usual. And, if you think about it, it does make perfect sense. I mean, how many of us are guilty of staying in the hot shower a little longer? Or cranking up the heater even though we’re pretty rugged up already? Or running the kettle multiple times a day so you never run out of those nice, hot cuppas? Freshly drying clothes so they’re crisp and warm when we put them on? If you have done these, trust me you are NOT alone!
It’s all well and good until the costs of running all of these extra appliances sends you into an unprecedented meltdown. Of course, some of the problem is outside our control – we can’t exactly help electricity prices. In their report on Residential Electricity Price Trends for South East Queensland, the Australian Energy Market Commision (AEMC) noted that Queensland has had to endure the frustration of rising electrical costs. Their research shows that over 2016 to 2018, electricity prices rose by 3.4%. However, promising some good news, the report also finds that prices are predicted to ease over the next couple of years. Albeit, this all depends on wholesale electricity costs and retailers’ decisions; it is not actually a predicted forecast. So, in other words, if you want to save on electricity, it’s better to take the matter into your own hands.
Thankfully, there are ways to be more energy efficient without having to completely ban yourself from using them. Don’t you worry, we’ve got a solution for all you electricity fiends. We’ve compiled a list of the worst electricity consuming culprits and how you can use them more economically and still have it save you from the harsh winters.
Hot Water Systems
According to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, water heating is the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions from Australian households. It is also the second largest category of household energy use – just behind space heaters and coolers. So there you have it. Your long warm showers could be the biggest culprit of your energy bill. So there you have it, after heaters and coolers, the most energy consuming household equipment are hot water systems.
So how do you save on hot water systems without completely avoiding those relaxing blissful showers?
- Check the energy rating on your water heater system. If you are renting a place, changing this may not be under your control, however it is still always good to stay informed on the energy rating of all your energy releasing appliances as they have a big impact on your bill. There are generally two main types of heaters used in Australia, storage heating systems and instantaneous flow systems. Instantaneous water systems heat water as you use it, while storage systems consist of pre-heated water. This means if the water remains in storage for too long, unnecessary energy will be wasted in keeping the water heated. Which means, if you are mindful of your water usage, instantaneous systems can help you save heaps more.
- Have a look at Living Energy, a comprehensive online guide for energy saving, has everything you need to know about hot water systems and their energy consumption. They have even compiled a summary of various electrical appliances and systems available, ranked in order of cost and energy efficiency. As per their findings, the electric heat pump water heater comes in as the most energy efficient and cheapest to run over time.
- There are also ways to ensure you are using your water heater more efficiently to save on costs.
- Try having showers at an appropriate-ish temperature. We know, it is extremely hard to give up your favourite showers. But in the end, does the water pouring down your skin really need to be hotter than the eternal flames of hell?
- Hot showers during the cold winter months is as addicting as having the air-conditioner running 24/7 during the summer. So if you are really struggling to get out of your showers on time (especially early in the morning when you are still half asleep), set a timer. Let’s try for the average 5-10 minute shower and see how you go!
- Use a water saving showerhead (and if you are wondering, YES it does exist! If you’re finding it too hard to cut down on time, then cut down on water. Water saving shower heads can reduce water-use up to 40%. When you go shopping for a showerhead, aim to buy one with multiple different settings!
Did you know that our nifty little clothes dryer is one of the most energy-consuming appliances in the average household. The solution to this seems pretty darn obvious – hang your clothes out on the balcony/ veranda. But everyone knows that Brisbane winters are known for dampening our outdoor plans as well as our clothes. So what else can you do? Once again, check to make sure you have an energy efficient dryer. Step two, consider buying an alternative dryer such as a condenser, heat pump or gas powered dryer. Here is all the info you need on these!
* Want more tips? Here is an article on the top hacks to making your dryer more energy efficient! *
Unlike air-conditioners that have energy efficiency requirements regulated by the E3 Program, space heaters are not subject to this regulation. However, space heaters have been known to be a safety risk as their open grill can be hazardous to kids that are unaware of how hot it can get, and because they are open, it also makes them a fire hazard as it is more susceptible to objects falling onto it. Regardless, if you own a space heater, here are three ways you can keep it energy efficient:
- Use a timer so it is only on and using energy for a certain amount of time.
- Do not put it on the highest setting (unless you want to melt like plastic)
- Try to avoid turning it on/ using it during peak hours.
- Do not place them close to flammable objects!!
A great way to heat your home without the risks and costs of a traditional space heater includes getting a split-system air-conditioner. A split-system air conditioner is basically a two-in-one technology that allows you to stay comfortable at whatever temperature you want regardless of the external temperatures by serving as a heater and cooler. At Air-Rite we have a wide range of split-system air-conditioners that you can use all year round.
Spas & heated pools: If you are a little boujee, owning a spa or heated pool could be another major source racking up your energy bills. Not many own a spa, however if you do, the Department of Energy and water supply provide a guide on how you can stay energy conservative. For example, if you run your pump during an off-peak tariff, you can save up to 30% on electricity!
Charging your electronic devices constantly: Many love to stay in during winter, which means your electronic devices such as your laptop or tv are probably being used more than normal. Try reading a book instead, or visit a friend!
If you are saving as much energy as you possibly can but are still looking for ways to save more, then you have finally arrived at the right section of the article! Here are some things you can do on your own to stay warm this winter without blasting the heater at full capacity.
- Installing energy monitoring gadgets so you can keep an eye on your consumption as you use it.
- Install double-panelled windows to avoid heat from escaping through the windows so the heat can keep the heat circulating in your room.
- Insulated walls are an effective way to ensure the heat you’ve produced from your fireplace/ heater, doesn’t escape out to the open where it gets lost in the cold.
- Stay rugged up. The best way to keep your body warm is to provide yourself with as much insulation as possible. Buy gloves, scarves or double up on your socks to stay warm.
- Curtains are good for keeping the sun out during summer but also good for keeping the heat in, in winter!
- Some extra tips from: https://www.energy.gov.au/household-guides/winter
At Air-rite, we provide quality split-system air conditioners from top brands so you can stay warm using the AC even in winter! To help you narrow down your heating needs, Air-rite has staff that can provide you with comprehensive product knowledge and advice you on finding the right air-conditioning system for you.
Air-rite can help maintain your split-system air conditioner so it stays running as efficiently as possible! Just give us a call.